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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guinevere (1994)

I've already watched a number of bad period films for this blog, and enjoyed them (for what they are.) Most of the movies I review aren't even that bad. They're either contrived and sickly-sweet, like Captured Women, Stolen Hearts, or 80s fodder, like a Hazard of Hearts. Sometimes both.

This movie, though, actually is mediocre. The acting, the plot, and the script, all leave me puzzled. It's a trinity of terriblness. But the actors are still working in the industry, so either they've improved their craft or they just had bad luck with this film. In any case, Guinevere shifts between being silly and being boring, and that makes for very snarky review.

Fridays nights with the fam
1) Morgan le Fay is a powerful sorceress of the old religion / the leader of a feminist cult, and she wants to use Guinevere and Lancelot to take over the country for the old belief system. She also runs a commune of a few dozen children who serve as her followers. Many are noble. For instance, Guinevere's dad is the king. No biggie.

Summary time:

The blood-letting ceremony begins. It's the moment of declaring life-long loyalty to the le Fay cause. Morgan mumbles something about loyalty, codependence, blah blah blah and slits Guinevere's wrist over an altar. The blood is in the bowl. This is it. There's no going back. Or is there? All of a sudden, Guinevere declares that she might not want to rule the country as a puppet Queen after all. Interesting time to have a revelation. Morgan is definitely not going to let Guinevere just walk out. What's a naive feminist to do? Certainly she can't gallop off on a stolen steed in broad daylight the next day. Or maybe yes. (To be discussed a little later.)

2) It's unclear exactly how Morgan le Fay became Guinevere and Lancelot's guardian and the benefits their parents thought they would gain from the experience. Apparently, Guinevere's father gave her away after her mother died (?), and Morgan le Fay saved Lancelot from drowning... ???

The impression I got was that Morgan le Fay runs a version of the Night's Watch where kids are sent when their parents don't know what to do with them. She trains them and builds them into legitimate citizens. Except that Morgan is actually trying to convert them all into little Morgan-le-Fay-Kingdom warriors. It's like you go to a tea party and after you drink your tea, the host is like "Hey, that was cool. Now, why don't we all just go flirty fishing for Satan?" And you're like "Wait, can I stop at the tea?" And she's like, no, no you can't, because the tea was just preparation, and now that you're here, you can't get out.
This, but without the awesomeness

3) A main plot point is that Guinevere has her first period in the beginning of the movie, thereby marking her entrance into DOOM, because Morgan can begin her evil plans now that Guinevere is a woman. But Sheryl Lee (Guinevere) is 27. Casting actors in their twenties isn't unusual for TV, but the problem here is that there isn't a hoard of other twenty-somethings to show that all teens look ten years older than in reality. All the other le Fay children are actually children. The only exceptions are Guinevere and and Lancelot (Noah Wyle, 23). The effect is that Sheryl Lee seems way too breathy and innocent throughout the first part of the film. It's hard to imagine that she's anywhere between fourteen and seventeen years old.

Guin washing the evidence from whatever they used for pads in Arthurian legend.
As usual, getting your period means that you've grown up enough for something dreadful and traumatizing to begin.
Thanks, Nature.
This character is supposed to be the imposing and powerful High Queen Guinevere, and I only ever saw Sheryl Lee acting. I partly blame the fake accents that the main characters put on.  I don't know what accent they were trying to do, but hard Ts and awkward sentence structure do not an English accent make.

The white figure with four legs is
actually one escapee and her idiot boyfriend

4) Lancelot bugs the hell out of me. He notices that Guinevere is escaping and pursues her on horseback. When he catches up, he promptly throws himself off his own horse and tackles her to the ground like a football player. Let's review all the options that would have been less potentially damaging:

A) Shout for her to stop
B) Ride parallel to her to get her attention
C) Gab her horse's reigns
D) Cut her off

Basically, anything would have been safer than what he did. Nice going. This totally makes me want to root for him as a wise and trustworthy character. BTW, he later pulls a knife on her. Sooo...
You can't see her father because he's hiding in the corner

6) Guinevere returns home and reunites with her father. Seconds later, the King of Gore steps out of the shadows and announces that he intends to marry her for her kingdom. He then gropes her thoroughly. Everywhere. A little inappropriate for the first meeting, I think. And her father doesn't protest at all. What the hell? He's on your turf, dude. Not only are you allowed to become enraged, but it's expected. At least be like, "Hey, look, dude, that's enough." But no, he turns away, and later assures Guinevere that she doesn't have to marry Gore. So, you're allowing groping and you can't even justify it with an impending marriage? What the what.

You could argue that her father's absence of a response shows her lack of worth, but that's just not the vibe you get. He seems to value her very much, so we can't make a wider judgment based off that.  He's just a little King, and Camelot (his kingdom) doesn't become powerful enough to warn other kings off groping its royalty until Arthur comes along.

If he were any less hot, the rolling would be objectionable
7) One of Arthur's frat brothers / knights gives a little speech when Arthur proposes to Guinevere. They are gathered around the King's deathbed so, as you can imagine, it's a romantic scene.

Guinevere: If you are not entitled to be king, you will rule here as my consort. And we shall be as equals, you and I.

Knight: I'm afraid not, my Lady. Not quite as equals. For you are Queen of Camelot, but this man, who will be rolling you between the sheets soon enough, is Arthur Pendragon, High King of Britian.

Wow. The girl was just orphaned and engaged in the last ten minutes. Give her a break. And imagine all the appropriate things he could've said. A ton of activities happen before the wedding night. Like arranging the wedding. And standing at the alter. And eating stuff. And signing contracts. But no, he doesn't reference any of that. It's all about the rolling and the sheets.

8) The fem-fight is annoying

Arthur: Maybe you should be heading home. All the other women have.
Guinevere: I won't go home before you.
Arthur: And when the prince is born, will you nurse him amidst the clang of battle?
Guinevere: The princess, I hope, will be weaned on peace.

Good job fighting over facts, guys. Someone get these people a time machine and an ultrasound. And the same in-your-face feminism continues throughout the movie. It's not delicate or well-done, but it is fun to see an extreme version of my own feminism filtered through a 90s TV movie.


Luckily, I am one of those people who enjoys commenting to myself and growling at screens, because that was my experience with this film. I'm pretty much a B-movie fan for solely the reason of interacting with my entertainment. If you are similar to me, I would give this a look and then switch it off if it doesn't go far enough to be fun. Or maybe you'll even like it genuinely. It's possible. Like unicorns. 
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1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen this one, but I admire thy bravery to trudge through these films, thou valiant knight!

    What I did wanna say is, I'm glad you're back and to see a post from you again :D And I hope you will continue being back as well? Hope your holidays were wonderful and relaxing.